mahikan ka onot collects the finest work of accomplished Indigenous poet Duncan Mercredi, from his first book in 1991 to recent unpublished poems. These are poems of life on the land as well as life in the city, vibrant with the rhythms of traditional Cree and Métis storytelling but also with the clamour and the music of the streets.
This book brings the work of Duncan Mercredi (Cree/Métis) back into the public eye, providing a new generation of readers with the opportunity to experience his unique artistry. Mercredi brings to these poems the sensibility of a Cree speaker and a renowned oral storyteller, revealing a deep attachment to the land and a nuanced understanding of the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life. In startlingly direct, plainspoken language, the poet explores themes of cultural resurgence and steadfast connections among the generations, even amid the unfolding tragedies wrought by colonialism.
Some of these poems are memories of traditional life on the land, especially in the time before Manitoba Hydro radically altered Mercredi’s home community of Grand Rapids, Manitoba. Others focus on the urban Indigenous experience, based upon Mercredi’s longstanding and intimate knowledge of Winnipeg. Like mahikan, the wolf, Mercredi’s characters are often outsiders in certain contexts, but the poems reveal other perspectives that allow us to understand their loyalty and their love of community.
The volume includes an afterword by Duncan Mercredi and an introduction by Métis scholar Warren Cariou, both of which provide resources for deeper study of the poems.